A watch with a Swiss automatic movement for less than 300 notes? Is the new Millar Scuba dive watch worth a punt?

Millar Scuba Review

The Millar Scuba is launching on July 1st 2021, on Kickstarter at just £299 (early bird price). For a Swiss-powered watch, that is a phenomenal price – and, in fact, even at the normal Kickstarter price of £375, this watch is still a bargain. The question is: has Millar watches cut any corners to hit that price point, and if so, are they the right ones?

Case and Crown

My first impressions of the Millar Scuba were very good. It is solid-feeling, and everything is finished beautifully, from the polished case to the screw-down crown. I love the cushion-shaped case, making this 42mm watch wear a lot smaller, and I liked the solid case back. Much better than the windows which manufacturers insist on fitting to watches with undecorated movements. It’s not deeply engraved, but it is crisp enough to read the text.

The watch is good to 300m under the ocean, which is better than most watches I review, and yet it still feels slim on the wrist. The ceramic bezel looks great, and the AR coating on the inside of the crystal works well. Frankly, I have no idea how this watch is built with a Swiss SW200 movement at this price, but I’m glad they found a way: it is a well-made, reliable movement that is easy to service.

The downsides of building this watch to a price are that costs have to be saved somewhere. I felt the bezel action could have been better. It is quite clicky, and there is a bit of back play. I also found the crown a bit fiddly. A touch more diameter and a touch more depth would have improved the way it feels. I was also less than convinced by the all-polished finish. It is done well, but a bit of brushed steel would have added a little more class, in my opinion.

Dial and Hands

The dial is the star of the show here, with a multi-layer construction that is hard for my amateur photography to capture, but I tried to show it in my video review. The applied markers look great, with excellent finishing that still stands up to close inspection with a loupe. The semi-skeleton hands look great and are easy to read in daylight, although only the tips are lumed, so it may be a different story in low light. We’ve only just had the summer solstice here in the UK, so I didn’t experience the Millar Scuba much in low-light. 

I really did not see any evidence of cost-cutting in the Millar Scuba dial, which is good news. In fact, the only negative I could find is that the blue second hand gets a bit lost against the matching dial. Millar watches are fixing that on the production models by painting the end in red.

Strap and Buckle

The review sample arrived on a leather strap. Personally, I prefer divers on steel or rubber, but the strap was surprisingly good. It is not marked “genuine leather”, so I cannot say for sure what grade it is, but it felt good – supple but thick – with a coating that should protect it from the elements.

For the price, you would not expect a posh clasp with the Millar Scuba, so I was content with the basic signed tang buckle. The strap is good enough that you would not want to swap it out on day 1 – and that’s not the case for many far more expensive watches!

Millar Scuba – Video Review

What I Liked

  • The cushion case shape is cool, giving a real 70s vibe
  • Fit and finish is excellent throughout
  • Even at the full RRP of £500, this watch would be a bargain. For £299/£375 on Kickstarter, they’re almost giving it away.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The blue second hand is hard to pick out, but production models will have a red tip.
  • The all-polished case lacks variety. Some brushed edges would have added a pleasant contrast.
  • The crown is quite small and fiddly.

Millar Scuba – the WRUK Verdict

Overall, if you want a decent dive watch and are prepared to wait for a Kickstarter campaign to deliver, I can’t think of any reason not to back this watch. The nearest similarly-specified competitor would be the best-in-class Christopher Ward C60, but that costs twice the price of the Millar Scuba.

If I didn’t have a box full of dive watches I’d leap on this campaign. For the price, the Millar Scuba is excellent and it ranks as one of the best sub-£500 Swiss dive watches I have reviewed. Highly recommended.

Buy a Millar Scuba

You can back the Millar Scuba at Kickstarter from 1st July 2021. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/millarwatches/millar-watches-present-the-scuba-dive-watch

Author: Mike Richmond

Mike spends what little spare time he has writing for WRUK; and what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

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